The PTI government has completed its first 100 days in power. Now it is time to look into its performance and tall claims of change and Naya Pakistan. So we are starting with performance of parliament in first 100 days of PTI government. I believes that a democratically elected parliament is the only true voice of the people and accountability to the people it serves is the basic plank of a democratic system. The involvement of People in decisions-making that affect their lives is not a mere luxury. People are the owners of government.
The Prime Minister Imran Khan in his first address to the nation made pledge to giving importance to the parliament and to make all the important decisions in the parliament. But so far PTI government has failed to introduce any major legislation and serious debate and discussion on important national and international issues.
No proper discussion and briefing took place in the parliament on the agreements made Saudi Arabia and China. No details so far provided to the parliament. The government hasn’t took the parliament into confidence on the ongoing negotiations with IMF to seek new loans. Like the previous governments, all the key policy decisions are taking outside the parliament.
The PTI government is not giving importance to the parliament but on the contrary it is ignoring it. Prime Minister Imran Khan himself only attended 7 out of 24 sittings of the parliament so far. He promised to start a weekly Prime Minister Question Hour in the parliament to give answers of opposition questions in parliament. All the key administrative, political and economic decisions continue to be made outside the parliament.
For the first time in the parliamentary history of Pakistan, the government failed to make the parliamentary committees of the national assembly functional. Both government and opposition are accusing each other for this pathetic situation. The formation of task forces and committees on every issue is the negation of parliamentary committees. Now all the policy making and deliberation on different issues will be done outside the parliamentary committees and that will deprive the parliamentarians on the both sides to benefit from the discussions and debates of technocrats and experts.
This whole exercise of task forces and committees could have done through the parliamentary committees involving the experts and technocrats of respective fields. This exercise could have improved the understanding and capacity of parliamentarians on different issues.
The existence of a parliament is not synonymous with democracy, but democracy cannot exist without a parliament. Democracy, in its various manifestations over the centuries, is by far the most coveted political system that serves to link government to the people. A democratically elected parliament is the only true voice of the people and accountability to the people it serves is the basic plank of a democratic system and one of its core principles is the principle of political equality, meaning that political power should be distributed as widely and evenly as possible among the people. This principle is captured by the adage: government of the people, by the people and for the people.
Democracy and good governance are not a luxury, but a basic requirement to promote sustainable social and economic development. Democracy, which is the basis for good governance, provides space for all people in a given society to interact, intervene and participate in issues that affect their lives. Consequently, good governance implies participation, transparent, accountable, effective and equitable management of the public affairs where the actions of public officials are guided by rules.
Good governance also implies that public resources and authority are used to benefit the entire community. In practical terms, democracy and good governance require, among others, active participation in decision making processes by the people, directly or through their duly elected representatives, parliaments and/or associations. Thus, participation not only recognizes people as citizens but makes government more representative of, and responsive and accountable to, the people it seeks to serve.
Parliament as an important arm of the State has a crucial role in promoting and protecting democracy and good governance thereby establishing not only the necessary check and balances, but also developing norms and standards for institutions of democracy and governance. The role and functions of parliament to promote democracy and good governance assume great significance today in view of the basic principles and assumptions associated with parliamentary democracy. A parliamentary democratic system acknowledges the fact that, parliament derives its powers directly from the consent of the people expressed through periodic elections and that parliament is to implement the will of the people, among other functions.
Citizens must have access to information about parliamentary proceedings, legislation, and policy, and be able to engage in continual dialogue with parliamentarians. The quality of elections is crucial as elected representatives can hardly fulfill their roles, specifically the role of representation, if elections are flawed. Free, fair and transparent parliamentary elections are critical to building credible parliaments and parliamentarian’s accountability. Democratically elected parliament is the only true voice of the people and accountability to the people it serves is the basic plank of a democratic system.
Parliament is crucial to the achievement of good governance in Pakistan. Parliament is one of the key state institutions of democracy, playing an important role in terms of legislation, oversight and representation. The representational role include ensuring that citizens and other stakeholders have a voice at the national level and are therefore involved in national governance issues. Regrettably, in Pakistan parliament is weak, ineffective and marginalized.
In the classical sense the key role of parliament is to make new laws and change or improve old laws. This is the reason why the parliament is also known as the legislature. However, the function of legislation of parliament requires both capacity and cooperation.
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17 November, 2019